The Harper Dining Hall has been closed for general use for the remainder of the Spring semester. While the dining hall remains open with to-go options for all students, only in-season student athletes are permitted to use the seating areas.
Senior Director of Housing and Auxiliary Services Lucas Novotny said that, at the beginning of the semester, a need was identified to provide a space for in-season student athletes to eat that would keep them from interacting with the general population while unmasked, as their time eating is the only time they are permitted to be in a public space without a mask.
The decision to use Harper Dining Hall for this purpose was made based on statistics from the fall semester.
“When looking at the use of both dining halls on campus, Harper Dining Hall was not well-utilized by meal plan holders. Additionally, with spaces removed to allow for socially distanced dining, Harper only allows 48 seats for dine-in eating. So, the impact was lower compared to other operational decisions,” Novotny said in an email.
The closure of the Harper Dining Hall for general student use prompted concern from some students, as this left Brandeis Dining Hall as the only dining hall on campus where students are permitted to use the seating area.
In order to address student concerns, Creighton Students Union president Parker Rieffenberger, along with the CSU Executive Committee, met with Novotny to better understand and communicate to students the university’s decision to close Harper Dining Hall for general use.
A main concern among students was how/if this change would be reflected in the amount they pay for their meal plans.
“The Office of Housing and Auxiliary Services is working with Creighton Athletics to correctly apply dining service fees, such that these fees from Harper Dining Hall will not be passed onto a general student population,” Rieffenberger said in an email statement sent to students on March 25.
Novotny and his team have made efforts to ensure all meal plan holders are still able to get hot, to-go meal options from Harper Dining Hall during meal periods. The to-go option now includes Eat Fit Go meals at no additional cost to meal plan holders. Eat Fit Go meals provide food that is focused on the ‘Simple Servings’ concept for which the Harper Dining hall is known for, Novotny said.
College of Arts and Sciences freshman Grace Crenshaw is among those students frustrated with the changes made to the Harper Dining Hall.
“I see a lot of athletes eating in Brandeis, so I think it’s irrational and gives them special privilege to have an entire dining hall closed for them,” Crenshaw said. “We already don’t have a lot of options for food on campus, and people generally like the Harper Dining Hall food more than Brandeis.”